Monday Mystery – April 2017

The Monday Mystery posts continues the success of our posts with the Traces of Texas Facebook page on the new Out of the Stacks. We’ll be posting one image every month from our Prints and Photographs Collection in hopes of answering a new photo mystery. All of the images will be available on the Texas Digital Archive (TDA)  and we welcome folks to browse through all of the images available on this site. We’re looking to our community of patrons, which includes academic researchers, genealogists, photography historians, and Texas enthusiasts, to help us identify some of our photo treasures.

Black and white photograph of a group of people standing in front of a two story building.

Image: 1997.108-18

Description: “The Round Up,” Batson, Texas, about 1890-1910

TDA link:

Collection: L.J. Whitmeyer glass plate negatives collection

Question: We’re curious to know more about Batson, Texas and the Crosby House that is so prominently featured in the “Round Up” photo. What type of event would have drawn so many folks to gather for this image – was there a special event or just a normal market day in town? Or was the photograph itself the spectacle needed to gather such a crowd.

If you find an image on the TDA that you’d like to submit for a future Monday Mystery post please email and include “Monday Mystery” in the Subject line.

Meet the Staff – Michael Brown

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services (ARIS) staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Photo of ARIS staffer Michael Brown.

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

I catalog books, maps, videos, CDs, serials, and electronic publications for various collections within TSLAC. Most of what I catalog, however, are Texas Documents, which is anything published by a State agency, such as (but not limited to) the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Historical Commission.

Why did you choose your profession?

I’ve always loved books, and in fact I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to read. I have written several novels, but I’ve never managed to conjure up the discipline to shop them around for publication. I hope that will change someday.

One of my first jobs out of high school was at Waldenbooks, where I sold books for 5 years. After that, I helped open and operate a science fiction and fantasy bookstore in Albuquerque called The Word Farm. After that, I got my first library job at the University of New Mexico opening mail for the Director of Acquisitions and Serials, Fran Wilkinson. It was Fran who eventually convinced me to go to library school, which is how I ended up in Austin.

Of all the different library divisions I could have chosen, cataloging is my favorite, not only for the deeply technical aspects of metadata and the decisions that go into making our material “discoverable” by the world, but also because of the proximity to the material itself. I touch and examine every single item that comes across my desk. It is that connection to the material that satisfies my love of the printed word.

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

I think perhaps my favorite document that I’ve cataloged is from my early days here, and it is an archaeological excavation report called Relocation of the Craddock Cemetery, 41BP581, Three Oaks Mine, Bastrop County, Texas by Solveig A. Turpin and Leland C. Bement. (Call # H2000.8 B297CR 2002) The reason I find this report so interesting is because the man whose grave they relocated (William Craddock) was murdered in 1875 by cattle rustlers who were angry at him for identifying them to the local authorities. They ambushed him on his way home and shot him. When the grave was unearthed in 2002, the buckshot that killed him was still there in the grave with his bones. The archaeologists moved the buckshot along with Craddock’s remains to the new grave site.

My favorite non-book item in our collection, however, is probably the Journeay violin. I am a fan of violin in general, and I do love the story behind this one, which you can read on the TSLAC website:

When you are not busy what do you like to do for fun?

I’m usually busy at home either writing, reading, undertaking household repairs, building things out of wood, playing guitar/piano, jogging, or trying to remember what I was taught in Tai Chi.

If I’m not trying to create something, then I am spending time with my amazing wife, Melissa and my incredible sons, Julien and Gabriel. I spend the rest of my time spoiling our 11-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Emma, or being mildly perturbed by the stray cat who has been hanging out on our porch for four years now. I don’t know why he’s still around, although perhaps it’s because I keep feeding him.


Remembering World War I

By Ashley Stevens, Education Outreach Coordinator

Today, April 6, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I also known as “The Great War.” This war would thrust America into a war unlike any other.

To commemorate this anniversary, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission opened its new exhibit, Texans Take to the Trenches: The Lone Star State and the Great War. The new exhibit, open now through September 2017, highlights the Texan experience. From the efforts on the home front to the soldier’s experience to the unique experience of German-Texans, this exhibit features documents, photographs, and artifacts that tell this story.

Black and white image of soldier resting in a field. He holds a canteen in his hand.

Additionally, to accompany this exhibit, our Reference librarians and staff members unveiled the new World War I-themed “Featured Items” Collection. The collection draws from materials in TSLAC’s holdings. Please note some of the materials are non-circulating items.Photo of books in the World War I Centennial Featured Items Collection in the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's Reference Library.

To view the exhibit and check out our Featured Items collection, please visit us at 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, TX. We are open from Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm and the Second Saturday of every month from 9 am to 4 pm.

Let Their Voices Be Heard!: Working with the Texas International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee Records

By Rebecca Romanchuk, Archivist

Mary Murphy is a Master of Arts in history candidate at Texas State University, specializing in women, gender, and sexuality. She recently completed an internship at the Texas State Archives to arrange and describe records of the Texas International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee. These records document a crucial period in the women’s rights movement in the late 1970s as the push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment gathered strength and then failed to achieve its goal.

Romanchuk: Mary, tell us why you were interested in working with the Texas International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee records at the State Archives.

Murphy: My interest in women’s studies and desire to work with an assorted set of records and media was a good match for this collection. It was also an opportunity to learn about a subject I had surprisingly never come across in my formal education.

Romanchuk: What was International Women’s Year and how was this committee involved with it?

Murphy: The United Nations declared 1975 as International Women’s Year to draw attention to efforts by women around the world to achieve equal status as a human rights issue. The first international conference to discuss women’s status in the world occurred in Mexico City from June 19 to July 2, 1975.

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From the State Archivist

By Jelain Chubb, Texas State Archivist

The Archives and Information Services division is committed to increasing universal access to materials in our holdings that document the heritage and culture of Texas, namely the Texas State Archives and our vast collection of reference, genealogy, state and federal documents, and Texana.

Our archivists help document Texas history by identifying, collecting, preserving, arranging and describing the official archival records of state government. In fact, we are the custodians of historical treasures such as the Texas Declaration of Independence, and over 80,000 cubic feet of paper documents as well as nearly 30 terabytes of electronic files available online through the Texas Digital Archive.

Like the archives, our library collections – which consist of over two million volumes – are heavily used by researchers of all types, from elected officials and state agency staff, to noted historians and authors, attorneys, genealogists, business owners, educators and school children. The public relies on our resources and the expertise of our reference staff to get definitive answers to questions and official documentation as needed.

Staff of the cataloging department, education and outreach, the Summerlee Conservation Lab, and the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty are essential to the continued acquisition and cataloging of our materials, public engagement, programming, exhibits, and successful collaboration with partners throughout the state.

Here are just a few examples of how, together, we connect Texans and the world to Texas history:

  • Through informative exhibits like Texans Take to the Trenches which opens April 3 and features items from our collection that tell the stories of how the state responded to the Great War
  • Through digitization projects that allow our virtual users to listen to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s audio recordings of the 1972 Carrasco hostage crisis at the Huntsville prison or view over 100,000 images from our Prints and Photographs collections
  • Through Interlibrary Loan, which enables library users to request published resources remotely
  • Through efforts to recover “alienated” or missing state records on behalf of the citizens of Texas. Items returned to state custody in the past few years include over three dozen mid-19th century Texas Supreme Court case files and an 1836 letter from Stephen F. Austin and Benjamin Archer to the Provisional Government; and
  • Through engaging presentations and workshops for libraries, historical and genealogical societies, schools, and the public on resources and topics that inform and inspire.

And now, with our new blog Out of the Stacks we will be offering regular updates on our collections and our efforts to make them more accessible to you.  On behalf of the ARIS staff, I hope you find this information of value and that you will let us know how we are doing!